An epidemiological and economic simulation model to evaluate strategies for the control of bovine virus diarrhea in Germany

Jörn Gethmann1*, Carolina Probst1, Jason Bassett2, Pascal Blunk2, 3, Philipp Hövel2, 4 and Franz J. Conraths1

  • 1Friedrich Loeffler Institute, Germany

    2Institut für Theoretische Physik, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

    3calimoto GmbH, Germany

    4University College Cork, Ireland

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Models can be used to plan, evaluate and improve programs for animal disease control. In Germany, a nationwide compulsory program to eradicate Bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) is in force since January 2011. As it is associated with substantial expenditures, the program is currently under revision. To provide the basis for a science-based decision on the future course of BVD control in Germany, we evaluated 13 scenarios (sc1-13) with respect to the chance of reaching freedom from disease and their economic implications for a period of 20 years (2011-2030). To simulate the impact of different control strategies on disease dynamics, a disease spread model was developed. To estimate the effects of a transient infection (TI) on animal level, a gross margin analysis was performed. To assess the value of cattle that died prematurely, a valuation model was used. Finally, an economic model was developed to perform a cost-benefit analysis and to compare each control scenario with a baseline setting with no BVD control. Costs comprised the expenditures for diagnostics, vaccination, preventive culling and trade restrictions. Benefits were animal and production losses avoided by having control measures in place. The results show that reducing the PI prevalence on animal level to 0 % is only feasible in scenarios that combine antigen or antibody testing with compulsory vaccination. All other scenarios, i.e. those based exclusively on a “test and cull” approach, including the current control program, will, according to the model, not achieve freedom of BVD by 2030.